Posted by: Jacqui Murray | April 1, 2011

Eight American Warriors–Part Six

…you’ve never heard of.

benavidez

Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez

Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez, U.S. Army (Vietnam)

Benavidez had such a difficult childhood that I can’t help but wonder if it made his brutal tours in Vietnam somehow easier. Born of Mexican and Yaqui Indian parents on the Texas border, he was an orphan by the age of seven after both of his parents died of tuberculosis (suck on that, Dave Eggers). After being raised by an aunt and uncle with eight of his cousins, he joined the Texas Army National Guard during the Korean War, then upgraded to the regular Army in 1955.

During his first trip to Vietnam in 1965, he stepped on a land mine, and his injuries were so severe that doctors thought he’d never walk again. But he recovered, joined the Special Forces, and went back to Vietnam in 1968, where he won the Medal of Honor with one of the most impressive citations I’ve ever read. Voluntarily heading into a clusterf*ck of an extract, he was wounded once in his right leg, face, and head. Then he did some heroic stuff and got shot in the abdomen and took shrapnel in his back. Then he kept fighting, called some air strikes, and was administering first aid to someone else when he got shot in the leg again. Then he got clubbed in the head, but still killed two more Vietnamese who were rushing at his helicopter.

You know those big-budget Hollywood movies in which the protagonist gets shot but acts like it’s no big deal, and everyone who watches is like, “Yeah, right“? That was Benavidez in real life.

Bonus Badass Points: In 1983, he successfully lobbied Congress to prevent the Social Security Administration from cutting off services to aging veterans.

Next, 7. Major Michael Weston, U.S. Marine Corps & Drug Enforcement Agency (Iraq, Afghanistan)

–credit for series to Uproxx


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